This past weekend, the 7th Annual Texas Teen Book Festival was held on the campus of St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. The event is a Texas-sized love fest for YA books, with the aim of connecting readers and writers, as well as promoting literacy. This year, the festival’s keynote address was a conversation with the absolutely amazing Mindy Kaling, creator and star of The Mindy Project (our favorite show ever!) and author of the best selling essay collections, Why Not Me? and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).
We adore Mindy. She’s charming, talented and hilarious. She also happens to be an incredible role model and a champion for self-confidence and body positivity. Basically, she’s awesome in every way. So OBVIOUSLY we were front and center for her keynote in Austin.
Here are six things we learned about our pretend BFF Mindy. TBH each and every one of them just makes us love her more.
1. She’s been writing since she was a kid.
Mindy is a self-described lifelong comedy nerd who was so into SNL as a kid that she would transcribe each episode, laminate it and put it into a notebook. She says she was shy as a child and remembers always wanting to write. Her first efforts were plays that she wrote when her parents, both doctors, would sometimes take her to work. Mindy would hang out in the doctors’ lounge, which she says was just like the one on The Mindy Project. The lounge had a typewriter, so kid-Mindy turned herself into a playwright. Bow down, guys.
2. She loves flawed heroines.
Mindy found solace in books when she was young, and says one of her favorite novels as a teen was Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. It’s the first book she remembers reading about a heroine who wasn’t inherently “good.” She loves lead female characters who are multi-dimensional and want to experiment with their sexuality or other areas of life that historically only male characters explored.
3. She thinks what’s real is beautiful.
Ever our kindred spirit, Mindy spoke about dealing with what she calls “the tyranny” of the backhanded compliment. You know what she’s talking about. It sounds a little something like this: “You’d be so pretty if you lost weight.” UGH. Mindy says that in order to find genuine happiness, she maneuvers her life and career in such a way to avoid people who say this kind of thing. The television shows she likes are the ones where looks don’t matter. What’s important is being funny. (Can we get an amen?!) Authentic beauty is found in what’s real.
4. She has role models, too.
Mindy is a role model to so many people. That was the one thing we heard most often at the book festival. She’s an inspiration, especially to girls and young women. But she’s got role models, too. Who does Mindy look up to? Emma Thompson and Shonda Rhimes. We get it, Mindy. We totally get it. We also think the three of you would make a hella fierce squad. Just saying.
5. She has a not-so-secret crush on Pierce Brosnan
When asked if she ever had a secret crush on anyone as a teen, Mindy answered, “Well, is Pierce Brosnan a secret?” Um, no. Not exactly. She followed it up by asking if the younger people in the audience even know who Pierce Brosnan is. Tragically, some of them didn’t. If you are one of those people, you need to watch the 1999 version of The Thomas Crown Affair. Like, right now.
6. She really doesn’t have all that much in common with her onscreen character
Kaling devotes an entire chapter in Why Not Me? to the differences between herself and Mindy Lahiri, her character on The Mindy Project. She touched on this subject again in her keynote, explaining that the main thing they have in common is a deep and profound love for McDonald’s.
Both Mindys also tend to find the same guys attractive. We’re guessing they’d totally be down for watching The Thomas Crown Affair together. You know, if one of them wasn’t a fictional character and all. Mindy K says Mindy L is crazier, more ruthless and has a better wardrobe. She also says her fictional self is a lot more resilient than she is in real life.
We’re not sure we agree. Kaling is a best selling author, as well as an actress, writer, producer and show runner for one of the best comedies on television. When The Mindy Project was dropped from Fox’s line-up, she struck a new deal with Hulu and the show got even better. Season 5 is set to premiere this week. That sounds pretty resilient to us.
We love you, Mindy!